Progress on Northern Ireland general licences

Woodpigeon. Photo: Tim Melling

The current Northern Ireland general licences are shockingly bad – as we wrote and told the Northern Ireland authorities back in the spring (click here for details). There are three licences which deal with public health, serious agricultural damage and nature conservation. The Northern Ireland general licence dealing with killing birds for nature conservation purposes lists Wood Pigeon (see above – isn’t it a very beautiful bird?) as a conservation threat! None of the other UK nations agree with that. There are some other howlers, both legal and biological, in the licences too.

But the Northern Ireland government has decided to issue a consultation on the licences which is open now and closes on the Inglorious 12th August so that comments can be taken on board before new licences are issued when the current ones expire towards the end of September. We’re sure this consultation and its proposed changes would not have occurred without our intervention.

The proposed changes are fairly modest but we welcome them. They are to remove Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull and Rook entirely from all of the general licences in Northern Ireland – this brings them more in line with those elsewhere in the UK. And also to remove Wood Pigeon from both the public health and conservation licences, and Feral Pigeon from the conservation licence.

Removing species from the general licences does not mean that they cannot be killed, they can, but only if an individual applies for and is granted an individual licence with strict conditions, limits and reporting procedures. That is a step forward towards eliminating casual killing of species.

Responding to the consultation is very quick (less than 5 minutes) and is open to all. You may want to respond now which will simply involve filling in a few necessary details about yourself and ticking all the boxes that say you agree with the removal of these species from the relevant licences (if you do agree, we do). We will be giving it a bit more thought because there is a box for ‘other comments’ and we’ll have some! To learn about our further thoughts on this matter, and to get a reminder to respond to the consultation, and also to hear our news across the board, then subscribe to our free newsleter – along with over 50,000 other supporters – click here.

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